Chicago Area Paddling/Fishing Pages

Black Bullhead, Brown Bullhead, and Yellow Bullhead
(Ameriurus melas), (Ameiurus nebulosus), (Ameiurus natalis)
We are not responsible for errors or omissions.
When boating, regardless of water depth, wear a PFD!

Description Regulations Habitat Records

Gamefish in the Chicago Area include:

  • Fishing for these requires a trout stamp in addition to your fishing license.


Black, Brown and Yellow bullhead catfish prefer quiet, brackish areas, areas near stumps, fallen trees and logjams. Unlike channel catfish, they have a squared tail not forked. Like channel catfish, they rely primarily on sense of smell to find food so baits with a strong odor work best. Since light for vision is not required for feeding, sometimes the best time to catch bullhead is at night. Bullhead tend to be smaller than other catfish and due to their diet of just about anything, alive or dead, they aren't usually the first choice of a fisherman.

Please check the fishing advisories for information.


There are no statewide creel or length limits for Bullhead Catfish. You still must follow any site specific regulations. Site specific limits

Habitat, habits and breeding

For much more information on breeding, habits and habitat, you can read the entire U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) for Black Bullhead This link is a scanned photocopy of the actual reports used by your local government to decide what fish to stock in particular locations. The reports are normally printed on heavy stock blue paper (You'll see the paper reflecting in the background of the scans. Warning: This report is a little over 1 meg in size and will require you to have Adobe Acrobat installed to view properly.


Illinois record: Black Bullhead 5lb 6oz, Brown Bullhead 2lb 10.4oz, Yellow Bullhead 5lb 4oz

North American Record: Black Bullhead 8lb 15oz, Brown Bullhead 6lb 2oz, Yellow Bullhead 4lb 8oz

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